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Fire Prevention Week 2017: Prevention and Planning for Fires

Wildfire engulfing fence and grass at night.

October 8th – 14th marks the 92nd annual Fire Prevention Week in the United States. During Fire Prevention Week, Americans are reminded of the dangers of fires and the importance of practicing fire prevention and planning every day.

Every year in the United States, thousands of people are affected by fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 365,500 house fires required assistance from a fire department. Of these home structure fires, more than 2,560 people died and more than 11,000 people were injured. Burn injuries can be catastrophic in nature, resulting in extensive scarring and years of surgical procedures.

In many cases, house fires and loss of life could be prevented. The NFPA urges Americans to take time this week to ensure that proper fire safety measures are being taken in their home and that an escape plan is in place if a fire does occur.

How to Prevent Fires in Your Home

Cooking equipment, heating equipment, and smoking materials are three of the top culprits in causing house fire-related injuries and deaths. Half of all deaths caused by home fires occur between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., despite only one out of five home fires reported during these hours.

Here are some tips to avoid fires from cooking equipment, heating equipment, and smoking materials:

  • Never leave a stove or oven unattended when in use. Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case a fire occurs.
  • Space heaters are the most common cause of heating-related fire injuries and deaths. Be sure to keep flammable materials such as furniture, clothes, and paper away from the heater at all times.
  • Most injuries and deaths caused by smoking materials in the home occur in the living room, family room, or bedroom. Choose to smoke outside and keep smoking materials (lighters, matches, cigarettes) out of the reach of children.

Although they cannot prevent a fire from occurring, smoke alarms are essential to alert you and your family in the event of a fire inside your home. The NFPA says that working smoke alarms in the home cut the risk of dying in house fires by 50 percent. In addition, three out of five home fire deaths between 2010 and 2014 occurred in houses without working smoke alarms.

Remember, it’s not enough to simply have smoke alarms in your home: they must be working! Test your smoke alarms once a month and replace the battery once a year.

Creating an Escape Plan for Your Family

In the unfortunate event of a fire in your home, a fire escape plan can help get you and your family out safely. The NFPA’s theme for Fire Prevention Week in 2017 is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”

According to the NFPA, here are some safety tips on how to devise and execute an escape plan if a fire breaks out inside your home:

  • With your family, draw a map of your house and mark two exits from each room and a path outside from each exit.
  • Practice a fire drill with your family twice a year, conducting one drill at night and one during the day. Walk through your escape plan using different ways out of the house.
  • Make sure that exits are not blocked by pieces of furniture.
  • Show your children how to escape on their own in case you aren’t there to help them.
  • Pick a meeting spot outside of your house, and a safe distance away, to meet with your family after escaping.
  • Never return inside a burning building! There is no item inside that is worth more than your life.

According to NFPA, only one-third of all Americans have developed and practiced a fire escape plan. Oftentimes, there is less than 6 minutes before a house fire becomes life-threatening. Devising and walking through an escape plan with your family can help you evacuate quickly and increase your chances of avoiding serious injury and death.

Have you or a loved one suffered a severe burn injury due to someone else’s negligence? Learn more about your legal options in our blog post: Who can be sued in a burn case?

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